Tens of thousands of international students have been stuck in Ukraine since the war started. African and Indian students stranded in Ukraine are accusing officials of discriminating against them and pushing them back from getting to the border/Photo: ©METABAD

Ukraine: Top UN official condemns discrimination of Africans escaping war

A top official of the UN has criticised the discrimination of Africans and other third country nationals escaping the war in Ukraine.

“I am alarmed about verified credible reports of discrimination, violence and xenophobia against third country nationals attempting to flee the conflict in Ukraine,” said António Vitorino, the Director General of the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in a press statement issued on Thursday.

“Let me be clear, discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, nationality or migration status is unacceptable. I deplore any such acts and call on States to investigate this issue and address it immediately,” he added.

The statement acknowledges the challenges faced by students and other migrants as they seek to cross borders into neighbouring countries. Many Africans have reported being prevented from boarding buses and trains heading to the borders and having to walk day long. At the borders, they are also discriminated against when seeking to enter the neighbouring countries, especially Poland.

“We are receiving reports of discrimination resulting in heightened risk and suffering,” the IOM chief said.

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“Neighbouring States need to ensure that all those fleeing Ukraine are granted unhindered access to territory, regardless of status and in accordance with International Humanitarian Law. Protection and immediate assistance must be provided in a non-discriminatory and culturally appropriate manner, in line with the humanitarian imperative, to all conflict-affected people throughout their journey to safety.

“I welcome the European Commission’s proposal to activate the Temporary Protection Directive to assist people fleeing Ukraine and call on Member States to ensure the inclusion of third country nationals in such protection measures.”

Femi Awoniyi

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